Monday, August 03, 2015

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Who Is Destroying the Palestinian Dream?
The confrontation between Hamas and its rivals inside the Gaza Strip is likely to escalate in the coming weeks and months. Hamas now has so many enemies inside the Gaza Strip that to combat them, it would have to step up its repressive measures. These measures, however, will only lead to more retaliatory attacks by anti-Hamas forces, and plunge the Gaza Strip into a state of increased anarchy and chaos. Many Palestinians are worried that the Gaza Strip will sooner or later fall into the hands of Islamic State or Al-Qaeda.
In the West Bank, meanwhile, such a threat does not exist, largely thanks to Israeli security measures against terror infrastructure and cells. The Palestinian Authority, for its part, is also waging a massive campaign against Hamas and other Islamist groups in the West Bank. The PA is not doing this out of concern for the "peace process" with Israel; Mahmoud Abbas and his lieutenants know that these Islamists will kill them first on their way to killing Jews.
The growing state of anarchy in the Gaza Strip, as well as the continued power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, do not bode well for those who still believe that the creation of a Palestinian state will bring about peace and stability in the region. The way things are going these days, particularly in the Gaza Strip, it seems that a future Palestinian state will be added to the list of Arab countries that are currently witnessing civil wars and bloodbaths.
It is time for the international community to wake up and realize that the Palestinian dream of establishing an independent state is being destroyed by none other than the Palestinians themselves.
PMW: Antisemitic teacher of Islam arrested after PMW supplies recordings to police
Following Palestinian Media Watch’s exposure of the Antisemitism lessons by Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, PMW was contacted by Israeli police and asked to supply all the original recordings. The police investigation has now led to his arrest:
"Today, Sunday [Aug.2, 2015] the occupation forces arrested Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi, a cleric at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, who gives religious lessons to children at the mosque." [WAFA (official PA news agency), Aug. 2, 2015]
PMW first reported on the Sheikh’s hate speech on June 2 and has since released five additional videos documenting the Sheikh’s antisemitic teachings. (h/t Bob Knot)
Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughbari being arrested by Israeli police

Sheikh at Al-Aqsa: Jews of Israel will be annihilated by Muslims, according to Allah's decree
Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi teaches Islam twice a week in the Al-Aqsa Mosque ‎Mosque in Jerusalem:‎
"When a group (i.e., PMW) from the Children of Israel ‎comes and puts our lesson under a microscope, and publicizes our lesson in a way ‎that contradicts the truth, in other words, they omit some parts of it and leave in others, ‎what happens then? The message becomes inappropriate. Because we have two ‎types of messages: When I speak with the Jews, I talk to them with wisdom and gentle ‎rebuke, as Allah commanded me. When I talk to you about the Jews, I talk about them ‎as they really are.‎
When they come uninvited to our lesson, coming to hear what we say, what does that ‎mean? It means they chose to hear the truth about themselves as Allah has exposed it ‎and made it clear. They chose this. I didn’t turn to them... The fact that this group [PMW] ‎chose to come uninvited to our lesson, and follows our lessons and publicizes them all ‎over the world and puts them on its websites in all the countries of the world - since ‎they chose this – first, praise Allah for this, Allah puts them [PMW] at our service to say:

Israelis mourn pride parade stabbing victim
Following the news of 16-year-old Shira Banki's death from the stab wounds she sustained at Thursday's Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, some 200 people gathered in Tel Aviv's Gan Meir park on Sunday evening in a spontaneous rally to pay their respects.
Members of the LGBT community lit candles and sang songs in Banki's memory.
"It is sad that an incident like this was not prevented. There were warning signs; they knew the murderer was unstable," Eran Basha Lamvin, who was at the impromptu memorial ceremony, told Israel Hayom. "Since it happened, I am always looking behind me. Even now, when I came to Gan Meir, I feared there might be someone behind me with a knife. It could have been any of us."
Ran Kott, who was also at the event, said, "They made us feel we were somehow polluting Jerusalem, as if we are only welcome in Tel Aviv. But the decision-makers sit in Jerusalem, in the Knesset, and that is where change should come from.
"I was really moved by the fact that Shira's parents agreed to donate her organs. Their daughter was murdered because of baseless hatred, and they chose to do the opposite, to save the lives of others. They are so strong. I truly felt the pain in my heart when I heard about her passing."
A simultaneous rally was held in Jerusalem's Zion Square, where people gathered and lit candles in Banki's memory.
Inbal Ilsar: My angelic friend
I received the news about the stabbing attack at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade later than most. I was outside the city and didn't have cell phone reception. Once I found out, I started crying and called my friends. I haven't stopped crying since.
I can't believe this is happening. It's like a bad dream when I see the name Shira Banki in the media. It's hard to believe they are talking about her in the past tense. I'm just in shock. It's a bad dream, and I am waiting to wake up.
Shira had strong opinions, and she never swayed from them. She was involved in a lot of activities and was also a talented musician. She played classical music on the piano and sang in a music group. She was a great actress, and we took theater classes together.
Shira was an exceptional human being, so gracious, and always looking for the best in every situation. She was optimistic and funny. I remember one time, a few of us were at her house, and I accidently burned something in her kitchen. I thought she would be angry, but she said it was fine and not to worry. She was also an outstanding student, with a unique and original way of thinking.
Despite parade stabbing, Israel is a beacon of gay rights
As the tragic attack on Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade Thursday proves, even a nation as safety-conscious as Israel is prone to colossal failures of security and intelligence. But as the outrage subsides and the injured heal, Yishai Shlissel’s stabbing spree must be considered for what it is: a relatively isolated incident in a nation that takes its LGBT citizens very seriously.
Need proof? How about progressive LGBT military, marriage and employment-protection policies that long preceded their US equivalents. Or ample state and municipal funding for LGBT education and social-service initiatives.
Or an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance that has made Tel Aviv one of the most openly LGBT towns on the planet. Or the immediate outrage from Israeli politicians — from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down — condemning Thursday’s horror.
These are not mere propaganda posings, but national realities that sharply contradict the growing portrayals of Israel as anti-democratic.
International Jewish gay conference to honor Jerusalem victim
Gay Jewish community builders from across the world are set to convene in Austria for the inauguration of an international think tank on their communities’ needs.
The 70 participants of the inauguration next week in Salzburg of the new think tank, which is called Eighteen:22, will also commemorate in the Austrian city the murder of Shira Banki, 16, who was stabbed last week by a repeat perpetrator of hate crimes at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade and later died of her injuries.
Eighteen:22 is a reference to Leviticus 18:22, a biblical verse which forbids men from having “sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman.”
“Despite major advances in gay rights issues, we really have a lot of work to do inside the LGBTQ community and out,” said Robert J. Saferstein, the Ohio-born initiator of the new think tank, which is part of the Connection Points program of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.
Palestinians file ICC report over deadly Duma firebombing
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki reported Friday’s deadly Duma firebombing attack, allegedly carried out by Jewish settlers, to the International Criminal Court on Monday.
The Palestinian report addressed attacks on Palestinians by Jewish settlers in general, as well as Friday’s attack on the Dawabshe family, in which an 18-month-old toddler was killed.
PLO official Hanan Ashrawi told The Times of Israel that the document, which relied on reports by human rights groups on settler violence, represents a “new format.”
Al-Maliki also met with the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for over an hour, and described the meeting as the most productive to date, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. Ashrawai said the meeting was scheduled after the fatal firebombing.
Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have also agreed to draft a joint appeal to the UN Security Council demanding “international protection for the Palestinian people and an end to the Israeli occupation” in response to the killing.
Settlers gather for interfaith vigil, but find few Palestinian takers
More than 300 people from the Gush Etzion area joined in a prayer vigil on Sunday evening for the victims of Friday morning’s Molotov cocktail attack in Duma, which killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and left his parents and brother in critical condition.
“We are here to pray because we are people of faith and we open our hearts to pray to God, and because as people of faith we are optimistic and hope our faith will create waves of love,” said one of the organizers, Sarel Rosenblatt, a rabbi at Yeshiva Machanayim next to the Gush Etzion Junction, where the vigil was held.
The event was billed as a prayer vigil for settlers and Palestinians, but only three Palestinians attended.
Sheikh Ibrahim Ahmad Abu el-Hawa, who is involved in a number of coexistence projects, praised the large turnout. “God brought you here to show we are all one, all the children of Abraham, to show the whole world we are against what happened,” he said. “We are all guests on this earth and we must live in love and peace.”
After Palestinian baby’s death, Israelis say condemnation not enough
The smell of stale smoke wafted from the burnt concrete home now marked by a banner bearing the grinning face of a baby and, in bold red letters, a name: Ali Saad Dawabsha.
Some 100 Jewish visitors trudged hesitantly under the banner and into the house on Sunday to pay respects to the family of 18-month-old Ali, who died Friday morning when suspected Jewish arsonists set two homes in the village on fire. Ali’s parents and his 4-year-old brother are in critical condition at an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv. The brother, Ahmed, has burns over 60 percent of his body.
The attackers, who have not yet been apprehended, also left Hebrew graffiti on the walls with the words “revenge” and “long live the king messiah.”
Inside the house, debris from the fire clashed with jarring reminders that just three days earlier, people lived here. Packages of food stood on the kitchen counter next to a packed refrigerator, now charred. The skeleton of a child’s hobby horse stood in a blackened corner of the room. Room by room, the smell of smoke only grew stronger.
The Jewish visitors, who were organized by a group called Light Tag, a coalition that opposes anti-Arab racism, had come to comfort mourners and bear witness to the crime, but a local guard detail organized by the village urged them not to stick around. Residents of this village near Nablus had glared when the group arrived, and the guards warned them to leave quickly in case things got out of hand.
Arabs Name 'Jewish Arsonist' - but He's in Jail
Palestinian Arab social media has been quickly spreading a claim that a specific Jewish arsonist was behind the lethal fire in the Samaria village of Duma last Friday - except the "culprit" they found has been sitting in an Israeli jail since last December.
An announcement has been spreading around influential Palestinian Arab Facebook pages claiming that Yehuda Landsberg of Gilad Farm in Samaria committed the arson that killed an Arab infant and wounded four family members, reports Channel 10 on Monday.
The announcement includes a poster image with Landsberg's picture, and the word "wanted" in English, Arabic, and Hebrew - with a clear Google Translate-inducted mistake in the Hebrew reading ratziti, meaning "I wanted," instead of the correct mevukash.
There's just one problem: Landsberg has been in jail since last December serving a two-and-a-half year sentence, on charges of having committed "Price Tag" vandalism on the Arab village of Far'ata.
According to the indictment against Landsberg, he and two others tried and failed to set some planks on fire at the site of a new home being built in a nearby Arab village, and then went to Far'ata where they ignited a Volvo and a Mercedes, tagged the scene with Star of David graffiti, and returned to Gilad Farm.
Responding to the false Arab charges, Landsberg's brother Hillel told Channel 10 that "the feeling is that someone is trying to harm us and our family, in the way they're determining that someone from our side has some sort of part in this awful act that was committed."
Cabinet okays jailing Israelis without charge in crackdown on Jewish terror
The Israeli government authorized security officials to use administrative detention and all other appropriate means to track down and hold suspects in Friday’s murder of Palestinian infant Ali Saad Dawabsha.
At an emergency meeting Sunday evening, ministers approved the use of “all means necessary” to catch the killers, alleged to be Jewish terrorists, who firebombed the Dawabsha home in the early hours of Friday morning, burning it down, killing Ali, and leaving his parents and brother fighting for their lives.
Ministers also agreed to expedite legislation designed to counter Jewish terrorism, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
A ministerial committee including Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was established to oversee other requirements to ensure more effective efforts to quell the extremism.
European Nations Silent as Senior Palestinian Official Honors Murderers
Germany, Switzerland, and Holland last week issued another harsh denunciation of Israel — just three days after a Palestinian Authority leader publicly honored terrorists who murdered German, Swiss, and Dutch citizens.
This latest illustration of craven European hypocrisy began on July 17, when the District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh, Dr. Laila Ghannam, celebrated the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr by laying wreaths at the graves of the Palestinian terrorists who carried out the 1975 Savoy Hotel attack, whose victims included a number of Europeans.
Ramallah is the capital of the Palestinian Authority, so Dr. Ghannam is no minor figure. She’s the approximate equivalent of the mayor of Washington, D.C. and the governor of Virginia, combined.
On her “Friends of Laila Ghannam” Facebook page, Ghannam boasted about how she honored the “martyrs of the Savoy operation” and “recited [the Koranic section of] Al-Fatiha for their pure souls.”
That “operation” consisted of Abu Jihad’s PLO terrorists landing by boat at a Tel Aviv beach, storming a hotel, taking civilians hostage, and then murdering eight of them during the Israeli rescue operation.
Discovering Terror — When the Suspects are Jews
Unfortunately, the mainstream media has shied away from using words like terror or terrorists when talking about Palestinian suicide attacks, drive-by shootings, stabbings, fire bombings, etc. targeting Israelis. The approach to the t-word was summed up in an post-9/11 internal Reuters memo by Stephen Jukes, who was then the wire service’s global news editor.
We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist.
Thus, papers have used words like “militants” or “activists.” Or, in the rare instance when terror appeared in a headline , it would be within quote marks — as if editors wanted to make clear they hold their noses at the word or express some skepticism about the attack.
For years, HonestReporting campaigned for the mainstream media to call terror by its name.
Most Western papers following up on the Dawabsha aftermath have not used the word terror.
On one hand, it’s morally wrong to not call the attack on the Dawabsha’s home terror. But on the other hand, journalism’s kid-glove treatment of the word has been generally consistent. Take, for example, this Washington Post headline which put terror in quote marks:
Israeli leaders propose harsh new measures to fight 'Jewish terrorism'
Interestingly, it wasn’t just the t-word that was in quote marks, but “Jewish terror.” Perhaps the Post isn’t ready to assume that the perpetrators were Jewish?
That’s unlike The Guardian, which finally discovered that terror can exist without quote marks.Israel to detain Jewish terror suspects without trial
John Bolton: The Iran Deal’s Dangerous Precedent
Had anyone believed President Obama’s mantra that “all options are on the table” to deal with Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the Vienna agreement might have emerged less advantageously for Tehran. But no one took Mr. Obama’s threat of military force seriously — a credibility gap that Israel still fears and Iran still exploits. Even so, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is still trying to reassure nervous Democrats in Congress that the Vienna agreement does not preclude America’s use of force.
Despite its blasé confidence in the agreement, however, the Obama administration understands the near-certainty that Iran will break its word. Tehran’s potential violations were not merely one of many difficult issues for negotiators; they were the essence of the talks. The deal’s entire structure turns on the issue of how to detect and handle breaches.
If Iran is caught transgressing, Mr. Obama’s plan is not to use force, but to apply “snapback sanctions.” His administration has argued repeatedly that such sanctions (or even new sanctions) will deter or punish violations, keeping the deal on track and Iran clear of nuclear weapons. This rationale conforms to the underlying logic for the talks themselves: If sanctions brought Iran to the table, then sanctions will keep the deal viable once implementation begins.
Unfortunately, the mechanism to address violations is as flawed as the deal’s underlying logic. For the president’s predictions of Iranian behavior to come true (and they are central to successful implementation), Tehran must recognize the inevitability of the pain their country will suffer for straying from compliance.
Yet the very language of the Vienna deal demonstrates the opposite. In two provisions (Paragraphs 26 and 37), Iran rejects the legitimacy of sanctions coming back into force. These passages expressly provide, in near identical words, that “Iran has stated that if sanctions are reinstated in whole or in part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA” — Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — “in whole or in part.”
In Israel, a Solid Left-Right Consensus Against Iran Deal
Having just returned from several weeks in Israel, I am struck by the fact that a very significant aspect of the Iran debate is receiving very little attention in the American news media: the mainstream Israeli left is just as strongly opposed to the agreement as is the Israeli right.
Isaac Herzog, leader of Israel’s Labor Party – the head of the opposition bloc, calls it “a horrible deal, one that will go down as the tragedy of the ages.” Herzog says, “There are clear risks to Israel’s security in this deal…it will unleash a lion from the cage, it will have a direct influence over the balance of power in our region, it’s going to affect our borders, and it will affect the safety of my children.” Herzog does not mince words in calling Iran “an empire of evil and hate that spreads terror across the region.”
Herzog warns that the deal will enable Iran “to become a nuclear-threshold state in a decade or so.” Moreover, Herzog points out, Iran will take the funds it obtains after sanctions are lifted and use them to resupply Hezbollah and Hamas, and “generally increase the worst type of activities that they’ve been doing.” Herzog’s partner in the opposition leadership, former foreign minister and justice minister Tzipi Livni, has likewise condemned this “bad deal.”
The Israeli left calls it a bad deal. But many on the American Jewish left call it a good deal. This must be a terribly frustrating for groups like J Street, which energetically supported Herzog and Livni in the recent Israeli election campaign and now find themselves at odds with their Israeli comrades.
The UN's Nuclear Watchdog Refuses To Bark And Can't Bite
After initially refusing, the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency will brief senators Wednesday. Are its nuclear monitoring practices kept secret because they're inadequate?
Yukiya Amano, the director general of the IAEA, until Friday was refusing to brief senators on exactly how the UN nuclear weapons watchdog would monitor Iran's nuclear activities. Now the longtime Japanese diplomat will testify to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday.
Democrats skeptical of the deal clearly helped change Amano's mind. They included ranking Foreign Relations member and Maryland liberal Ben Cardin, who urged "direct communications with the IAEA."
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the committee's ex-chairman targeted by the Obama administration with an ethics probe whose timing is very suspicious, spoke much stronger words.
"We are putting an enormous part of the national security of the United States" and that of U.S. allies into the hands of the UN agency, Menendez said, adding that "the entire verification regime depends upon the IAEA." It is therefore unacceptable "not to be able to question the IAEA about how they're going to go about it, about their abilities to do so, about the budgetary realities they may need in order to accomplish what we want them to accomplish."
Report: Iran Side Deals Becoming ‘Big Problem’ for the White House
Agreements between Iran and the the IAEA about how to address the country’s troublesome nuclear past are a “big problem” for the White House, The Hill reported on Sunday, after lawmakers called to the have the documents disclosed.
The State Department has said these secret agreements are standard procedure between the IAEA and members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran signed but then violated.
Members of Congress insist that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act — which sets in motion a 60-day review period ending in a vote on the general nuclear deal reached between world powers and Iran on July 14th — also covers the so-called side agreements between Iran and the IAEA, which are necessary for the implementation of the new international plan for the country’s nuclear program.
Warrant for AMIA attack suspect not lifted with nuke deal
An international arrest warrant for Iran’s former defense minister in the AMIA Jewish center bombing will not be lifted under the Iran nuclear deal, US officials said.
Ahmad Vahidi is still being sought in connection with the deadly 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires center and nothing will change under the agreement between Iran and the world powers reached last month, according to the State Department.
“Nothing in the recently concluded Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action, or JCPOA, on Iran’s nuclear program has an impact on or removes the Red Notice for General Vahidi issued by Interpol, in relation to the 1994‎ bombing in Argentina,” the State Department said in a statement Friday, two days after Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman asked Secretary of State John Kerry about Vahidi’s status in a letter. “And we continue to urge the international community and Argentine authorities to do whatever is necessary to hold the AMIA bombers accountable for that atrocity.
Along with Vahidi, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and its officials remain sanctioned in the United States because they were listed for reasons outside the scope of the agreement, the statement said.
Majority of House Backs Resolution to Kill Iran Deal
A majority of House lawmakers now support a resolution to reject the recently signed nuclear agreement with Iran, marking another blow to the White House’s aggressive push to convince Congress to back the deal, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
At least 218 Republican lawmakers have signed on to support a resolution expressing “firm disapproval” of the nuclear deal, which would provide Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief while enabling it to continue work on ballistic missiles and other nuclear research.
The measure, which is being led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill) and was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, comes as Congress takes 60 days to review the deal before voting on it.
Many lawmakers, including a growing number of Democrats, have come out against the deal, citing concerns it does not do enough to limit Iran’s nuclear program.
Democrats say Iran deal all but secure in Congress
Congressional Democrats are increasingly confident that they will have the one-third votes in either chamber to defend a presidential veto against any legislative bid to overturn the Iran nuclear deal.
“More and more of them (House Democrats) have confirmed to me that they will be there to sustain the veto,” Pelosi told reporters, according to Reuters.
Republicans in the House and Senate are expected to push through a “resolution disapproval,” effectively keeping the US out of the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran by a US-led group of six world powers.
But President Barack Obama has promised to veto such a bill, forcing Congress to produce a two-thirds majority in both houses to override the veto.
While Republicans control a majority in both chambers, they cannot muster a two-thirds veto-proof majority without at least 44 Democratic House representatives and 13 Democratic senators.
Jewish Group Demands Obama Stop Demonizing Jews
Last week President Obama held a conference call with interested Americans, seeking to directly sell them on the nuclear deal the U.S. and its P5+1 partners made with Iran.
Many Jews who listened on the call were taken aback by what they heard as coded anti-Semitic language being used by the President to attack those who are critical of the deal.
On Friday, the Republican Jewish Coalition issued a statement demanding that Obama stop demonizing the critics of the Iran deal with code words for Jews.
Matt Brooks, the executive director of the RJC, quoted the President’s comment, that the “lobbying taking place on the other side is fierce, well-financed and relentless.”
Brooks responded, “Some of us have been around long enough to remember how Jewish groups – including Jewish Republicans – came down hard on the first President Bush for similar remarks.
“Apparently, the President’s claim that he ‘welcomes a robust debate’ was just rhetoric – like his administration’s repeated pledges to make Iran submit to ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections.
Iran Nuclear Chief: Vienna Text 'Not an Agreement, or Treaty'
IRNA, the Iranian state news agency, quotes Ali-Akbar Salehi, Head Nuclear Negotiator and Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), as stating that “The [Vienna JCPOA] text is not regarded as an international agreement, convention, or treaty. Therefore, it has been named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”
Salehi made the statement in the context of whether the JCPOA had to be referred to the Iranian parliament – or Majlis – for approval.
Salehi also reportedly asserted that “to his knowledge, only international conventions and treaties had to be referred to the Iranian parliament for approval,” and therefore, the government did not have to send the JCPOA for approval to the Iranian Parliament.
IRNA added that according to Salehi, “the term Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action contains itself, it is not an international convention or pact so he could not see why it should be referred to [the Iranian] parliament.”
Salehi’s assertion that the JCPOA is not an “international agreement, convention, or treaty” jibes with the JCPOA document itself, which states that the entire document is “voluntary” on all the parties.
The quotes by the lead Iranian negotiator raises the question of what exactly the JCPOA is, and whether the unsigned JCPOA obligates Iran or any of the P5+1 countries to do anything.
Iran uses fabricated WikiLeaks cable to smear UN rights rapporteur
Iran has launched a sophisticated smear campaign against the UN special rapporteur investigating its human rights violations by widely spreading a fabricated WikiLeaks cable purporting to show he received bribes from Saudi Arabia.
In a concerted effort aimed at discrediting Ahmed Shaheed in the eyes of the general public, Iranian state-run agencies and semi-official websites simultaneously carried articles claiming that the Saudi embassy in Kuwait had paid the UN envoy $1m to take an anti-Iran position. It dominated many Iranian front pages on Tuesday and an Iranian official later used the false information to question Shaheed’s credibility.
The allegations are based on what is claimed to be a WikiLeaks cable the authenticity of which has been challenged by the organisation itself. “Please show which cable this claim is based on. You fail to link to one of our cables in the article,” the official account of the WikiLeaks tweeted in response to a website carrying the news. Shaheed has also strongly denied the claims.
A deeper examination of the forged document when compared with genuine Saudi cables published on the WikiLeaks website showed that it had been fabricated with help from a computer technique to merge two sets of different real diplomatic Saudi letterheads and creating an entirely new letterhead which does not exist elsewhere. It was then put on and, two amateur websites that duplicate materials from other sources.
The Most Famous Casualty of Obama’s Nuclear Deal Could Ultimately Be Hassan Rouhani
Current wisdom is that the nuclear deal will strengthen moderates within Iran, who will be seen as having delivered on their promise to strike a deal with the United States and deliver the country from crippling sanctions. However, the exact opposite may be even more likely to occur. Iran’s leadership may well pocket the deal and punish president Hassan Rouhani and his moderate allies for the concessions they made in Vienna. This is despite the fact that Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made every decision and compromise at the nuclear talks with the explicit approval of the supreme leader or of his appointed representatives. He would not dare do otherwise.
So, why should the Rouhani administration be blamed for the compromises when in fact it was the supreme leader who approved every single one of them? The simple answer in this case is: Why should the supreme leader admit to any compromise, when he can let Zarif’s boss President Hassan Rouhani and his government take the fall? That’s one of the downfalls of working as president for the supreme leader in post revolution Iran: You get all the responsibility, but much less in terms of authority. Or as Iran’s first Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan described after his resignation in November 1979, it’s like “giving a knife to someone, but the blade of the knife to someone else. He [the government] is holding a knife without a blade.” In other words, the real power is in someone’s else hand, in Bazargan’s case, Ayatollah Khomeini.
The same applies to being president in Iran these days (the post of prime minister was dissolved in a 1989 referendum). Although it may appear that Rouhani made compromises to the United States in the talks, as a matter of fact it was someone else far more powerful than him whose permission he needed to do this: the supreme leader. But because the president is the public face of the negotiations, he gets the blame for the compromises, while the supreme leader enjoys plausible deniability.
Iran denies Zarif’s son was best man to Kerry’s son-in-law
The Iranian report traced the best-man story back to one Michele Hickford, “a communications strategist and award-winning advertising copywriter. She has held senior marketing positions at Turner Broadcasting and USA Networks and served in Congressman West’s congressional office and as Press Secretary for his 2012 campaign.”
Former Congressman Allen West cited the report on his website on July 28.
Fars explained to its readers that the report was an attempt to tarnish Secretary of State John Kerry’s reputation “as the Republicans and the Israeli lobbies have started massive propaganda to torpedo a recent nuclear deal struck between the six world powers and Iran.”
Jerusalem fire may have been result of arson, fire officials fear
A fire that rampaged throughout the Jerusalem area Sunday morning forcing over 700 residents to evacuate the area may have been the result of arson, sources in the Jerusalem Fire Department investigative unit said Monday.
Evidence collected at the epicenter of Sunday's fire indicates that a deliberate arson attack may have been the cause of the blaze, though the investigation remains open and no conclusions have been made, the investigative unit added.
The inferno, which was contained shortly before 8 p.m., was originally believed to have been started due to negligence by a local farmer, according to a Fire and Rescue Services official.
More than 700 residents of Moshav Even Sapir and the Ein Kerem neighborhood near Hadassah University Medical Center in southwest Jerusalem were forced to evacuate their homes Sunday as 50 firefighting teams and eight airplanes worked to control a blaze that threatened the area.
Zionist Union MK Under Fire for Visiting 'Occupied Territory'
An MK from the Zionist Union party is coming under fire from the left because he visited the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council.
"It is precisely because of the complexity of today that I decided not to cancel and come," the MK, Danny Atar, said at the start of his tour of the region on Sunday. “At such moments, we must conduct dialogue instead of fortifying ourselves in our camp while pointing fingers.”
Atar’s tour began at the Ulpana in Dolev and ended at the site of ancient Shiloh.
Extreme leftists took issue with the visit, however, lashing out at Atar on his Facebook page for “daring” to visit the Binyamin region and the “occupied territories”, as they put it.
“You are one of the destroyers of the Labor party. Fuad the next generation,” wrote one user, referring to former MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.
Another user wrote Atar, “You've lost my vote when you supported the law which legalizes the settlement division.” Another user expressed disappointment over Atar “strengthening the right”, as he put it. “It is disappointing that now you have chosen to strengthen precisely those who threaten the rule of law, equality, liberalism, freedom from religion.”
Hamas Demands Suicide Attacks Against Jews
Hamad Al-Rakav, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza's Khan Younis, said that residents of "the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem" need to attack not only Israel, but also the Palestinian Authority (PA) Security Forces who are "traitors and collaborators." Hamas has long demanded that the PA drop its security collaboration with the IDF.
According to Al-Rakav, Hamas's "armed wing," the Al-Qassam Brigades, will renew its activities in cities around Judea and Samaria and attack Jews in "revenge" for the lethal arson, despite the fact that the identity of the culprits remains unknown.
"The Zionists' burning of the helpless infant that didn't commit any crime is proof that they are thirsty to spill our blood and to commit crimes against our people," claimed the Hamas leader.
Calling for "revenge," Al-Rakav emphasized that the response required is a return to suicide bombing attacks.
End of Assad? Erdogan Claims Putin Pulling Support
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Monday that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin has shifted away from his support from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, and is open to a Syrian future without Assad.
“I saw him more positive during the face-to-face meeting we held in Baku and in a telephone conversation later," Erdogan said of Putin while on a trip to Indonesia, reports the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
According to Erdogan, Putin "does not have that initial stance; he is no more at the ‘we are behind al-Assad all the way’ point. Actually, I believe that he may give up on al-Assad; he is going in a much more positive direction."
If true, Erdogan's claim would back up Arab media reports from late May, according to which Putin has started pulling his support from Assad as the latter's long internecine war continues unabated.
Scores of Kurdish Civilians Killed in Turkish Bombardment
Two Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens wounded Sunday in a suicide attack claimed by Kurdish militants, as Ankara kept up its air campaign against the rebels' bases in northern Iraq.
The attack in the Dogubayazit district of the eastern Agri province is the first time Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants have been accused of staging a suicide attack in the current crisis, amid an escalating cycle of violence.
Ankara has launched a two-pronged "anti-terror" offensive claiming to target both ISIS jihadists in Syria and PKK militants based in northern Iraq after a series of attacks inside Turkey including a devastating suicide bombing blamed on ISIS group.
But so far the bombardments have focused far more on the Kurdish rebels - with Turkish official media claiming that 260 suspected PKK members have been killed - and the rebels have retaliated inside Turkey.
There is also growing controversy over possible civilian casualties in the Turkish bombings, and the local Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq on Saturday urged the PKK to spare civilians.
US strikes in Iraq, Syria killed hundreds of civilians, report says
US-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria likely have killed hundreds of civilians, a report by an independent monitoring group said Monday. The coalition had no immediate comment.
The report by Airwars, a project aimed at tracking the international airstrikes targeting the extremists, said it believed 57 specific strikes killed at least 459 civilians and caused 48 suspected “friendly fire” deaths.
While Airwars noted the difficulty of verifying information in territory held by the Islamic State, which has beheaded journalists and shot dead activists, other groups have reported similar casualties from the US-led airstrikes.
“Almost all claims of noncombatant deaths from alleged coalition strikes emerge within 24 hours — with graphic images of reported victims often widely disseminated,” the report said. “In this context, the present coalition policy of downplaying or denying all claims of noncombatant fatalities makes little sense, and risks handing [the] Islamic State and other forces a powerful propaganda tool.”
The US launched airstrikes in Iraq on August 8 and in Syria on September 23 to target the Islamic State.
PreOccupied Territory: Good Thing I Didn’t Kill Cecil The Lion, Or People Would Hate Me By Basher Assad, President, Republic of Syria (satire)
I do not envy that man. Seldom does a person do something so odious that millions upon millions of angry souls feel moved to express their outrage so immediately and so virulently. Indeed, luring a lion out of its preserve, shooting it with an arrow, waiting for it to bleed to death two days later, and then posing for photos with its carcass is despicable behavior. Such barbarity has no place in our world, and I, for one, am both relieved and gratified that nothing I have done as head of this country has attracted so much spite from all over the world.
Which is not to say that I have not made mistakes; I certainly have. Many of my policies could have been implemented with more sensitivity, and I should be doing more to encourage young men to enter my military service. Ethnic divisions in this land still threaten economically and politically, and I have been known occasionally to authorize torture, indiscriminate killing, and the wholesale destruction of neighborhoods. Those situations could have been handled better. But I can say proudly that I have never done anything as horrific as kill a lion that has its own Instagram account, judging from the intensity of the world’s reaction.
And justifiably so. I say this not simply because Assad means lion in Arabic; even with a different name I would feel the same revulsion as the rest of the international community at this senseless killing of a majestic creature that had a future ahead of it, and, apparently, an avid following of which I can only dream. Wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of those millions of passionate individuals. Better to play it safe, not do any illegal killing of creatures who have people who love them, is what I’m saying.
There is also an argument to be made that the man’s profession, dentistry, already prejudices feelings against him, as the typical association with the field is one of pain, sadism, and unnecessarily bloody procedures to remove undesirable elements. I, who trained as an ophthalmologist, carry none of that cultural baggage, and society is not predisposed to view my behavior through the prism of torture, chemicals, and officially sanctioned abuse. Thankfully, my background has allowed me to avoid the knee-jerk reactions that has been leveled at the Minnesota dentist: cries of “butcher,” “sadist,” and “barbarian.”
Also, come to think of it, it is harder for the other guy to blame his actions on Israel. There is that.

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